“We applaud Senator Heinrich’s focus on the root cause of Colorado’s Animas River mine disaster — the antiquated 1872 Mining Law. When he introduces his bill this fall, we will take a step towards finally creating a dedicated fund to clean up the half million old mines that plague the West. Mining law reform will ensure that other communities do not have to endure the tragedy that Colorado, New Mexico and Utah are currently living.
It should not have taken this disaster for us to wake up to the real costs of mining.
With Senator Heinrich’s leadership in the Senate and Congressman Grijalva’s corresponding House bill, HR 963, we can bring the mining law, and the mining industry, into the 21st century.
The last time Congress seriously considered the 1872 Mining Law was in 2007 – if the bill had passed that year, today’s hardrock mining reclamation fund would have had between $900 million to $2.5 billion to clean up mines like the one that polluted the Animas and San Juan Rivers.
In addition to a new fund to facilitate mine reclamation, modernizing the 1872 Mining Law will ensure precious water resources are protected from new mining and that mining can be balanced with other uses of public lands, such as hunting, fishing and recreation. Until reform passes, today’s mining industry will continue to run amok. Our precious water resources, and the communities that rely on them, will be at risk from a 19th century law intended to exploit our mineral resources without consideration of environmental impacts, past or present.”